tv Hearing Considers Modernization of Endangered Species Act CSPAN May 12, 2017 5:54pm-6:55pm EDT
people who suffer from upset -- epilepsy. >> he was said decorated combat veteran with a strong military with a much broader conception of what it was. >> he reached out across the of vital on the first of 1961 and started with the alliance for progress stillnesses but public works committee called the endangered species act.
and to be terrified of their work with officials to implement the 1973 lot. >> i call this hearing of the senate environment works committee. >> thanks to the chairman with that democratic leader is called the emergency caucus meeting with those issues leading up to the dismissal of the fbi director and how they might move quickly with the special prosecutor to be put to work right away and if i have the opportunity perhaps the colleagues will as well.
and give me a chance of the opening statements for girl week will talk about your experiences of the endangered species act of what they have cultivated in though lessons they have learned and what they need to know. i am not sure we can gather a more knowledgeable as the witnesses represent a century of natural resources environmental and fish and wildlife. so this said endangered species act to of the size of what struck me as a very important issue the first the world is experiencing the exponential increase for
the international union has declared almost one-third of all those species and 22,000 are currently a risk of extinction. as the end of on the endangered list we will hear from the witnesses today whose state their concerns of the conservation in their states then why are they in trouble? are there legal challenges? the endangered species act should be a backstop against extinction and it clearly shows the states and federal agencies to prevent them from being listed in the first place. reestablished our last hearing that the species are times often biologist though even decades in advance but
the governor disclosed earlier that despite this notice to focus on all those non game species that are struggling and is now a source of contention but the question of is how much and with what resources? hopefully the experts today can help us appreciate to help us understand what the federal government needs to do to get this job done i have to say the numbers are not to encouraging about a quarter of what the fish and wildlife service does to protect those endangered species act to include all federal in - - agency spending is about 4% that we
need to invest more in our state but also it has some soul-searching to do if you need those federal agencies to back you up then we need to know that. with the restoration to be a collaborative effort in the state partners landowners with business interests the goal should be to make sure with the magnitude of trouble and i say these things as a recovering governor in the unique capacity to understand the challenges of your states to resolve in those partnerships that you need to reach these goals but in this particular instance your front and center in the fight with a national concern.
these plants and animals are through the political boundaries. and to modernize with those changes you propose in the places that they call home. in just a legal obligation with the moral duty as well and i deeply appreciate the chance to come back and be with all of you. >> as you know, the democrats have invoked the to our rules so it will only go and tell 1130 which is only two hours after the senate adjourns so the public works committee continues the efforts for feedback on state officials to modernize the endangered species act was enacted in 1973 to be identified as endangered or threatened
with extinction with those ecosystems on which they depend state governments believe the state fish and wildlife agencies pay a role in be admission seven tried to argue the federal government not the state is dealing entity capable to save the endangered species that the state should take a backseat and wildlife conservation for those our risk of extinction but they don't care whether the federal government or the state government protects them they just want to be protected. combined the nation's fish and of life agencies are formidable machine since enacted almost 45 years ago state fish and wildlife agencies have been hands their staff and expertise their capabilities and relationships with private landowners and local communities and political support this a state where it fish and wildlife
agencies according to a fifth -- a 2015 survey conducted by the association of state fish and wildlife agencies the well but conservation machine has comprised 50,000 highly trained and motivated employees including 11,000 wild life to grieve biologist 6,000 employees with advanced degrees 2,211 employees solely dedicated to informing the public about wildlife conservation issues. and additional 190,000 volunteers nationwide in support of state agencies. state governments have increasingly voiced concerns of the endangered species act is living up to conservation potential so wildlife managers and construction companies and farmers and ranchers and other stakeholders in the injured species act and
access all. ninety-nine .4% of all localities are hotel least one species listed as endangered according to a recent analysis of the data by the national association so we must all be concerned it isn't living up to its conservation potential and we are fortunate the national and regional stakeholder groups have been working for several years of bipartisan ways to identify challenges and the opportunities to make a statue to work better and in march of 2016 the association adopted a set of principles to modernize the limitation of the endangered species act and to better facilitate the facilitation of andover's and other stakeholders june 2016 unanimously adopted the western governor association
endangered species act policy under the leadership of the wyoming governor the western governors association and other bipartisan groups and individual stakeholders' consistently hit on three themes of they discuss ways to modernize the end date -- endangered species act. conservation how can a better incentivize activities and number two when day are listed as endangered? consultation. huckabee facilitate the federal government consultation with state and local governments so the decision making of the best available information is adequately leveraged. capacity how can the act provide sufficient resources to fulfill the mission and better allocate those to those most in need. according to feedback from across the nation and political spectrum
modernization of the endangered species act could be to better outcomes for other species and government entities and private parties and other stakeholders afford to hearing more from our witnesses about common-sense bipartisan opportunities to modernize and strengthen the endangered species act to make it work better for wildlife and people. we will now hear from our witnesses the executive director for the fish and wildlife commission and the president of the association fish and wildlife agencies thanks for joining us today. >> good morning chairman and ranking members and members of the committee i appreciate the opportunity to be with you today my remarks represent the views of the florida fish wildlife commission and the association regarding the endangered species act are shaped by 31 years of experience a state
administrator for perduring this time might have been fortunate to work in florida we have amazing diversity featuring a number of iconic numbers that have benefited including the bald eagle and the vanity in the florida panther and turtles and american crocodile. my direct experience across the nation that endangered species act has served the nation well as the recovering species on the pre-of extinction agencies evaluate how esa has driven success stories but we also see firsthand that esa has not adapted well across the landscape federal agencies to not have sufficient capacity or funding to keep
pace with the esa workload resulting in litigation and esa is viewed by private landowners with great trepidation rather than an opportunity and it is troubling the primary focus to shift over time from rescuing species from the brink of extinction to a the highest level of federal regulatory protection either when the threat of extinction has been eliminated and ongoing protection is assured management directors generally believe the esa is not performing as a sugar leveraging expertise their cooperation we believe there are many areas where esa should be modernized to effectively deal with the scope and scale and complexity of today's conservation challenges. with a talk about modernizing tsa we talk about improving how the
minister to implement optimizing partnerships to better utilize the conservation capacity and we're also talking about keeping the essayed decisions in the hands of professionals as state and federal agencies rather than the judicial system and with these concerns in mind with a list of general principles for improving esa there developed by the practitioners from the governors' association reflecting that national scope we're hopeful those ideas and recommendations will inspire and guide a constructive and collaborative path to a more effective esa coupled with improving esa we believe that addressing the needs it habitat requirements of declining species to prevent
esa listing is prudent and biologically sound approach to managing species better otherwise trending the eliciting the state agencies have identified the species and key actions needed you want to continue working with congress to fund this preventative approach like the recovering america's wildlife fact agencies want to be even more value added to the degree to have the funding authority. we are suggesting be opt in approach to be endorsed for those of will develop capacity we're not suggesting all states are ready to fully engaged but many are if we could get a seat at the table. the way esa is constructed and interpreted could be involved only at the
destruction of -- discretion of other agencies to a maximum of practical corporation this is never been fully realized as this provision as a primary trustee state agency should have the option to serve as of role jurisdictional partner in these decisions as originally intended by congress we believe conservation officials wildlife to protect and recover endangered species is at the core of the american values the current version is something we could be proud of but we cannot afford to let esa continue to decline the time was right to be upgraded to a more cooperative model we're hopeful for strong bipartisan support to move forward. >> now we will turn to the director of the arizona game and fish apartment former president of the association
fish and wildlife agencies. >>. >> they give chairman and ranking member i am pleased to be speaking here with you today. my career has been in a position a believe enables me to shed light on important aspects of the endangered species act. from a 42 year career with the department including nine years as director of the three governors from both sides of the ideal. i have also served president of the association fish and wildlife agencies and a charter member and the administration i serve special detail and ivan number of the strategy team that has enhancements to significantly improve
conservation to the species in so that bipartisan support to be assured the state directors assessing their willingness to be more deeply involved in the esa more than 90 percent of directors surveyed have affirmed their willingness. is an act that shows its age to modernize the act and take a vantage of the unparalleled conservation capacity with fish and wildlife agencies. my experience tells me it is critically important that we strengthen the provisions in section six states carrying out the program authorized by the act the secretary shall cooperate to the maximum extent those are clear and straightforward
words we will vote not so simple in practice 44 years later federal agencies still have not promulgated rules to administer these simple phrases so what makes it so important? to foster cooperation intended by the fish and wildlife agency from those authorities to use a far more effectively when it can be optimized so consider what makes this true instead of the importance of the states to care for the endangered species it could be a fight with and quantitatively your qualitatively. it may sound a little repetitive because the chairman visited these numbers but the resources provided is impressive and
eclipses that of the federal partners. state wildlife agencies manage conservation of more than four does 64 million acres of land and lakes and reservoirs state wildlife agencies employ nearly 50,000 people m leverage the efforts of 190,000 volunteers they employ 11,000 people which is the entire work force of the fish and wildlife service nearly 6,000 of the employees will divans degrees and they contribute 5.$6 million toward wildlife conservation annually to achieve those of rival successes with endangered species conservation this could be seen in an example from my state in the
published peer review papers contrary to claims or quality data and bexar batistes -- expertise schwab delivering actions this reduce the regulatory impact . another prime example is the prairie chicken conservation program the five other states have administered by fish and wildlife agencies volunteer cooperation by landowners and industry has conserve 16 sites totaling 133,000 acres this because she's populations are stabilizing and funding exceeds $50 million of my professional experience shapes my final thought. esa is the tool but this has become stagnant and needs modernizing because they can
no longer meet the challenges we face the was have the opportunity to list these decisions in implementations to develop private land owner programs and decisions to dallas to the species under those that have effective cooperation to deliver the capacity needed into the future. >> next of return to the director of the rhode island department thanks for being with us today. >> could morning chairman. it is good to be here i'm the director of the rhode island department of environmental management oversee the official robert agency that oversees all projections are worked under two governors and i now work for governor remove go.
is a little surreal i worked as a professional staff member for the committee many years ago maybe 20 years ago right with the committee was about to report the process and read the endangered species recovery act and want to talk about that experience because it does bear looking at that was reported by the bipartisan vote after a very extensive process we had three years of negotiations and hearings it was wonderful to work for the senators who was the republican chairman of this committee who held our values very der edward say you can see a lot by looking at giving that philosophy he
did many feel hearings will into wyoming and we traveled with john turner and that power companies and talk to farmers and ranchers looking at what was actually happening and it was very clear then and now of the endangered species act has a very different impact in different regions of this country. so to give you my perspective which is one of policy that now oversees the state agency with considerable budget constraints of very important critical mission of public engagement if we will be successful. so talking about those major points, as a first-rate have strong federal rules enacted for 1973 we did not have a
strong set of legal authorities so that act is one of the finest conservation laws in the world with many successes and it is critical to have that backstop to ensure whatever happens we know we have authorities to protect someone to say i know everyone here wants to make the act more successful with conservation, a state agencies and we're geared toward doing that with the tremendous workload and it would be wonderful if you could have a bipartisan bill as he did 20 years ago i think the committee is now working through issues and a lot of work would be needed with the modernization bill but it is possible as people are thoughtful to take a
look that we don't undermine the work while looking at the experiences from the west. the next point is a strong state agency engagement with boots on the ground and involved in the communities from the conservation and the science with the landowners that we need to work with. and a state agency is critical listing recovery plans without reaching and in collaboration i can say in the northeast we have a very close working relationship about the new england cottontail that has been terrific at reaching out to the states to collaborate adequate
resources for gore will not repeat what my colleagues have said but to conserve species is critical in 1 ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure we all like to keep these species from getting on the west. -- the list. we have put a tremendous amount of work into the action plans with the serious science base documents and they help us spend resources live -- wisely we don't have sufficient resources or i am to carry them out but to summarize my last point the cottontail is a great example of how the imminence listing moved people to get together kicked off by fish and wildlife service to
administer a process and by doing that we could keep the species that was about to be listed to prevent that from being listed that the secretary could announce the listing was not warranted and we had a whole cadre of toters and partners who started to work together with the cottontail and with breeding programs now we see that species that depend on that habitat because of the way we would work collaborative flee across many states soil end by saying we're very resource constrained fortunately men and women in this country see to it we are feet -- fighting decades we have been making for an adequate source of funding and a
state like mine 85% funds are already restricted and it is very difficult to find the resources to put forward with though whole host of non game species under our authority. thank you i look forward to any questions thank you for having me. >> since the democrats have brought into play the to overrule me to make sure you each of the time i will reserve my time. >> let me remind you director that the experiences that you shared with us 20 years ago was my first year he also came to oklahoma and study our systems you are right he had eyes on it all the time.
you brought up the prairie chicken but we had conservation plan oklahoma my state was one we worked for a long period of time and we came up with some conclusions and even though we went to all that work that fish and wildlife laws violate the -- because they didn't consider that conservation plan. so right now we are in the process of looking at this to see what we can do but for people to work with these efforts and would like
you to give us your opinion of the seriousness of that effort and why they are not incentivized in our system to participate?. >> senators, the prairie chicken i think is a classic example of what states can do with the integrate together to work with partners in the private sector as well as the public sector that plows ground to the future the way conservation will be known. with hundreds of thousands of investment but yet there was the finding by the service that the species needed to be listed the courts disagreed but i would argue that lack of a formal
process for the state's to be at the table and the decision process for the state leaves a whole and there is a checks and balance to of the state wildlife agency be a part of that discussion. >> the director suggested the same thing did you want to comment in terms of some of those ideas? it is a real clear in your reinstatement whether or not you had a state intervention or a trigger point where they could take over the function of the federal government?. >> yes. i agree fully that states don't have enough of a formal rule -- a role but we
do try to collaborate the bin we have to set aside and wait for decisions we believe one idea a classification of threatened and endangered species we believe bin original intent that is no longer listed changing to a threat and the status that they believe in managing that species. >> exactly that reminds me in oklahoma that fits into the category the fish and wildlife seem to move the goal post but then once you accomplish that they move the goal post and that is one of the problems we had with the american beetle it was only in eastern oklahoma and rhode island.
the analysis the listing the science and the problems are pretty much resolved and that shows since the inception of the endangered species there are only 40 that have been d listed so it shows we already there is good recommendations made by this committee. but i really think this will be a real accomplishment of this coming year that we have worked on a long time that we started 20 years ago. >> thank you for your ongoing leadership over the decades. >>.
>> what about private funding and land owners? those working with u.s. fish and wildlife service in partnership? of course, this should be our goal to get all sides involved working in ways we can accommodate land owners at the same time the think the endangerendanger ed species act needs clarity to work in partnership with private landowners?. >> to use those innovative measures like memorandums? those that are negotiated directly with landowners?.
>> yes, sir. we feel there is a lot of work to be done to clarify the importance of private land owners and working with landowners to achieve conservation it does make an effort and that should be applauded for right now the hands are tied in many cases they view that as a serious threat to how to use their land we believe there is a better way for word if they can be involved on the ground we feel we can be helpful with this relationship. >> as i a understand it there are land owners in mississippi with 4 million acres seeking to do this and in what ways are their hands tied?. >> first is a serious workload issue for the time that it takes with the
forestry landowners to say what can we do to put measures in place now? . . >> it is not very clear as to what landowners can and can't do and how the right type of conservation programs can be put in place. >> is there some recommendation you would have to the committee about streamlining the rules making the process more efficient? >> we have recommendations that would be helpful particularly moving from rules to actual overarching legislation in law.
>> you mention a backlog in that regard, what about the backlog of species petitions awaiting review by the u.s. fish and wildlife. do you think 12 months is enough time to craft a u.s. fws voluntary conservation plan for interested stakeholders? >> with current capacity it is not for the volume we are dealing with. it's not enough time, but. >> what you recommend? >> we recommend a workplan approach. a privatization approach. also looking at the species that are being petitions and the threats and putting them in their proper order and priority. some may take more time. some might be more feasible to do quickly. right now it's a shotgun, every thing is coming at once and it's hard to handle it.
the service has taken some steps but we have ideas on how to further move it along. >> how do you set a different time on an ad hoc basis? >> i think you could set it up, frame it up for the law to have flexibility. so when experts look at a species when it comes in they can make decisions about where it would fit in the framework of timelines. >> thank you very much. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mr. chairman. first of all, let me just say that after having the opportunity to work as governor of south dakota i have a huge amount of respect for the individuals that work at the local level in regard to game, fish, recreational opportunities, management of those game and not game species. i look at the south dakota game fishing parks and what they have done and the amount of respect they garner in the work they do
in the cooperative way in which they try to put together local agreements with landowners. trying an affirmative way to create good relationships so the recreational opportunities of our citizens are enhanced. along with it, they have that obligation and responsibility to work with the federal government and u.s. fish and wildlife services to fulfill our responsibility in regarding to the danger endangered species a. they do a marvelous job in balance in this challenges. i'm curious, director you said in your testimony that you explain the authority of section six agreement allows for state to have a greater opportunities to participate in a limitation of the esa, you also mentioned that state agencies have not been able to exercise the authority due to misunderstandings and misinterpretation by the federal executive branch agency and
courts. could you elaborate on how agencies and courts have misinterpreted section six authority and how it has impacted the ability of states to participate effectively in esa implementation? >> thank you senator. we found in the ministration of section six it's primarily been on applying section six to the shared funding opportunity but not the full suite of opportunities for the states to participate at the table in collaboration on esa -related decisions and processes. as an example, during the 90 day and petition review process where they take a look to determine if the species warrants further analysis and
100 day recommendation of whether to list or not, stay data unless it is conveyed and in the files of the federal agencies before hand the court several that i cannot access the data and information from the states. clearly, the intent of the essay would be working together collaboratively there is no hardwiring of the states in terms of our ability to participate on recovery teams and recovery planning. that is a decision at the will of the u.s. fish and wildlife services whether they include a representative from the state. they will make the determination of who the representative will be. that's not really the full relationship that was a vision. i believe section six was intended to be the balancing of the tenth amendment concerns and issues of the states. is not punching that way.
>> in the interest of time i will yield back the remaining part of my time. >> i will just ask one question that i'm interested in. i'm interested in the topic the consistency in which the u.s. fish and wildlife enforce and make specific actions. we rely states are different. in our state we have had concerns from state regulators that fish and wildlife has been inconsistent in its approach for required habitat protections in the state compared to other states. in particular, rather than going to the formal rulemaking to designate habitat they have been establishing buffer zones. these buffer zones all critical habitat but have not been through the subject of public
rulemaking. as a result it is unclear, the footprints are unclear. there has been no consideration for the economic impact on even has impacted our ability to do some reclamation activities. have all three of your states have bad inconsistency? have you had this issue with buffer zones being created instead of critical habitat? >> we have not had that experience, if i can go back to the new england cocktail example that was an example where a front there was an agreement on conservation on the ground and what we would strive to do and it's actually a federal agency to help us work with private landowners and doing those agreements rather quickly. that's because we set out in advance working collaboratively with that u.s. fish and wildlife services on what the goals would be. so the collaborative experience
in rhode island. >> we have not had the experience with buffers, but what we have had is an application of principles applied to how we can manage or deal with a given species but it varies and diametrically opposed to what is allowed for another species. species to species their inconsistencies in the way rules are applied. we have had situations where the colorado river is a major dividing line between regional offices syringe into is on the east side of the river and written region eight is on the west side of the river. we have had opposing decisions
on what we can do in terms of stocking rainbow trout. ruled by one office in the same water that is being rolled in another way by another office. there's geographic inconsistencies that write up on the sign river. >> yes, mr. chairman. i would say that we have not had the buffer experience but we have seen how things are different in different parts of the country in different states. to me one way to help is because how well states collaborate with each other and share information i think having a seat at that table and being there with that decision was made to consider buffers versus critical habitat is a workaround i think we would've called them on that and what is seen there was a better way. looking for more of an open door there. >> senator ernst.
>> in your testimony you spoke about the importance of state agency participation in the implementation of esa. overeat the years despite on the ground experience and expertise, states have not always had as much say in the process as they would have liked. from your time at the game and fish department can you provide an example of a time when both a species and stakeholder would have been better served had the federal government taken more state data or recommendations into account. >> thank you senator ernst. i can think of several instances, one example would be a very politically divisive recovery effort there has been a 25 year effort to revise the
recovery plan for mexican wolf, the original recovery plan was developed in the 80s and it's outdated, it's been extremely politically divisive. in the at one time we had to fight for seat at the table to be a part of the recovery plan process. and when we are fighting for that scene the recovery team that was convey convene the planning subgroup had no biologist on the team. nobody that understood population dynamics for the species that is what we do for a living, we have the expertise and we ultimately got a seat but we had to fight our way in. it was not easy. that should be a hardwired event. we should not have to try to find a way and bring political
pressure to get a seat at that table. it was important that where there because some of the published dynamics they were pursuing would have failed, there simply was not the base to support the wolf numbers they were talking. that is an example of having to scratch and clot to get in as opposed to be a full partner. >> so you think just by having the states involved from the very beginning of those discussions that a lot of conflicts would have been avoided and perhaps a better plan would have been put in place? >> absolutely. we do have a full seat at the table now and it has been reconstituted. i think we have more powerful signs coming to bear now. we have improved the modeling a great deal by bringing state scientists into the picture.
we hopefully have a better trajectory on the final hope for a revision i think that could have reduced this 25 year timeline by a magnitude. >> thank you. i appreciate that and i think states should be involved especially when they have the expertise in dealing with a certain species. in your testimony you emphasize the important of state fish and wildlife participation. you noted that conservation efforts would be aided by increasing the utilization of data from state agencies. our federal partners ignoring, or they choosing not to use stated in favor of their own data? >> we had recently had a good experience. i think it has improved over time. u.s. fish and wildlife services
using state data were sharing data. they're extremely open to that in rhode island. we've had that experience. it's gotten better over time according to my staff. in some areas we have the capacity and expertise in other areas we don't, might be a university or another entity. >> is their lack of communication in those examples? >> i bring in the rhode island experience, we have a good working relationship and a lot of are endangered species conflicts are in the marine environment. >> i yelled back my time. >> in the time that is left, that are hearing in february a director who serves as president of the southeastern association
testified that state governments have enhanced their capacity over the past 30 years to make greater contributions to implementation of the endangered species act. do you agree with the director that states are in a better position today than they have ever been before to contribute to the conservation recovery of the species under the endangered species act? >> we absolutely do. we feel their states were working to get there, we are all working to get do better. but if you look at the transition entrance information of agencies, it's amazing what we can do and are doing and i really think now is the time to give regard to that. >> mr. chairman, if you noted on my bio, i started in professional wildlife conservation a year after esa was implemented.
at that time we had one biologist on staff that was what we called a non- game biologist. i have over 100 people on staff that deal with conservation of non- fish species. clearly arizona has grown in our ability to deal with esa listed species as well as species at risk. the other thing i want to point out is that state wildlife agencies are an incubator of innovation. some of the innovative solutions taken place and i think one of the example highlights there's a 50 million-dollar endowment bill by partnerships with industry. some of the states if you were to ask what is your appropriation for endangered species they might not look spectacular but they generated an endowment through partnerships that enables them to be effective.
in our state we have a contract operation where we are able to deal with species outside of our appropriation methodology through contracts that range seven through $10 million per year. that innovation is coming out of the states. i think where the cutting-edge of public-private partnership in america. >> our time has expired. the question had to do with how much money is available and the impact of the equal access to justice act. they talked about how much money it in federal taxpayer dollars is spent for environmental litigation related to the endangered species act. and how little money you get and how we can best make sure the money goes in the right place. i was met that that question to you consistent with the rules of
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